Cole Cooks: North Carolina BBQ Vinegar Sauce Recipe

North Carolina BBQ


North Carolina is known for its wonderful pork BBQ.  I went to University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and must say it is my favorite style of BBO.  What makes it so special is the sauce.  There are actually several types of North Carolina BBQ Sauces.  This is a recipe for my favorite North Carolina BBQ Vinegar Sauce that is typically found in the Western portion of the state.

Go To Recipe 

Experts will tell you that there are two main types of North Carolina BBQ, Eastern and Western.  Personally I like to call them Eastern and Middle.  The Western style, my favorite is based right in the middle of the state.  Right outside Greensboro is the small town of Lexington, in my mind the leading BBQ place in the state.  There are several good places in town but I always go to Lexington Barbecue.  My sauce is loosely based on what is served in most Western/Middle North Carolina BBQ places.

The Eastern style sauce is more vinegar and hot sauce.  It will make your mouth pucker.  The Western style is cut with some ketchup and sugar so it is sweeter.  However, this is still strong and tangy stuff.  For many people, North Carolina BBQ Sauce is simply too intense.  However, Fun Diego Family loves it.  I turned my California wife onto it and she will accept no substitute.  She will only eat at a BBQ place that has North Carolina BBQ sauce as an option.

In terms of other differences between Eastern and Middle/Western North Carolina BBQ, Eastern cooks a whole hog while Western does just the pork shoulder.  When we make this at home we always do just the pork shoulder, for obvious reasons.  Beyond just pork BBQ we use this sauce for many other recipes.  For example this is a a key component in our savory sloppy joes.

Making this sauce is super easy.  Basically you just combine the ingredients in a pan and let it simmer.  We usually use the apple cider vinegar jar to store the sauce.  It will keep for months, but we tend to go through it pretty fast.

North Carolina BBQ Vinegar Sauce

A North Carolina BBQ Vinegar Sauce in the Western or Middle North Carolina style.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Author David Cole


  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce Texas Pete, Franks, Crystal
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in a pan. Whisk to dissolve salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool and store in a jar.

Recipe Notes

Heating is not necessary. In a pinch you can simply add all the ingredients to a jar and shake.


Leave a Reply

Editor's choice
San Diego's Top 10 Attractions
San Diego's Top 10 Attractions
Biking San Diego Harbor
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Downtown La Jolla Village
Yosemite First-Time Visitor Tips
Africa Rocks at the San Diego Zoo
Sunset Cliffs Hike
whitewater rafting on the American River
Avalon Catalina